Lasting effects of hitting a child

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Is there a single desi person that hasn’t been hit as a child for discipline or as punishment? For some of us lucky few, both parents and teachers participated in this cultural practice. Look at us all grown up now. We turned out great. Must’ve worked!

Or did it?

The physical scars may have disappeared. But the emotional and mental scars are a lifelong gift that often becomes a family heirloom.

Consider these five reasons why spanking does more damage than good.


Harms the brain

Spanking reduces brain’s grey matter — the connecting tissue between brain cells. This is what influences the child’s intelligence and learning ability. The grey matter includes regions of the brain involved in muscle control, and sensory perception such as seeing and hearing, memory, emotions, speech, decision making, and self-control [wiki] .

According to Hilary Blumberg, associate professor in the Yale Child Study Center, the adolescent’s brain shows the most plasticity. Meaning it is developing and is being molded. She said that “It is critical to find ways to prevent maltreatment and to help the youths who have been exposed.”

Makes them aggressive and anti-social

Who would have guessed that parents’ aggressive behavior causes their children to be aggressive? The most influential role models are the caretaker of a child. How are they to know that the physical aggression displayed against them is unacceptable in social situations?

Per a Ohio State University study, even kids that were spanked just once a week ranked high on the antisocial behavior scale. The scale included:

  • “cheats or tells lies,”
  • “bullies or is cruel or mean to others,”
  • “does not feel sorry after misbehaving,”
  • “breaks things deliberately,”
  • “is disobedient at school”
  • “has trouble getting along with teachers.”

Lowers their self-esteem

If children are hit by the number one person that they trust to protect them, it makes them question what is wrong with them. They believe that they are not worthy of being treated with respect.

Also think about this. If a child is taught through physical punishment that they are not able to handle life while under the supervision of their parents, then how will they feel self-confident to handle life outside of the home?

Difficulty developing healthy relationships

Well one of the difficulty is because adults that were hit as child are more prone to hitting their adult partners. Our parents teach us what is socially acceptable and what is not. We are teaching children hitting is acceptable behavior. Spanking during childhood has also links to sexual violence. This all explains well our wonderful culture of domestic violence [sarcasm].

PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder)

Hitting a child is traumatic. And prolonged exposure to this trauma is a strong predictor of PTSD symptoms. The T in PTSD is traumatic.

The abused child as adult could have upsetting memories, feel on edge, or have trouble sleeping. They may find it hard to do normal daily activities, like go to work, go to school, or spend time with people you care about. They would need counseling to recover from the experience.


There is however one immediate benefit to spanking your children. They’ll do anything you tell them to out of fear. And if you think that’s a good enough reason then allow your boss to hit you when you don’t deliver on a task.

Let’s break this traumatic cycle with us. Let’s vow to not use corporal punishment as means of discipline for our children.

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